TF Sport make near perfect start to World Endurance Championship

by Jean-Paul Hackett

Surrey-based TF Sport is off to an excellent start to their first season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as just two tenths of a second separated them from a sensational debut win in the series at Spa-Francorchamps.

After the pre-season test at Paul Ricard and additional testing around Europe, TF Sport was as prepared as they headed into their maiden season in WEC. Having won in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, then in European Le Mans Series, the team arrived ready to battle for victory.

Qualifying didn’t go as planned with a setup issue on the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE which put both Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey at a disadvantage, but by race day the pre-season work showed dividends.

Spirit of Race, Ferrari 488 GTE, GTEAm, #54, Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, Giancarlo Fisichella, FIA World Endurance Championship, Spa Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium © Race Photography

Credit: Craig Robertson

Yoluc started the race from sixth and moved into fourth on the opening lap, showing clear intentions from the start. It was a solid stint from the Bronze driver, who later decided to relinquish positions to the Pro drivers ahead of him before pitting for Charlie Eastwood.

A confident Eastwood wasted no time in closing the gap to those ahead in class, cutting the difference from some 80 seconds to 40 by the end of his stint, before Euan Hankey was handed the reins to bring the car home.

The gap remained at the 35-second mark as Hankey, and the factory #98 driven by Pedro Lamy traded best lap times. A safety car, however, closed the field with Hankey then just six seconds adrift of the class leader.

In a thrilling conclusion to six hours of racing, Hankey gave his absolute best to gain the win, before being pushed wide, and this resulted in the second-place finish; a fantastic result for TF Sport on its WEC debut.

Credit: Craig Robertson

A delighted Tom Ferrier, the TF Sport Director, had this to say after the race, “To come into the FIA World Endurance Championship and to do that is a fantastic achievement.

“In saying that, we had a little luck and there’s still a few things to improve on; we need to clean some things up.

“Qualifying we didn’t get quite right, so to come away with P2 demonstrates we have a lot of potential, so quite happy.”

Turkish driver Salih Yoluc reflected on his WEC debut, “It was a good result. The Porsches were super-quick around here and, in some ways, we gained from the problems they had but we also drove without any mistakes, so I am thrilled with the result.”

Teammate Euan Hankey added, “We’ve gone from the European Championship to the World Championship this year, and we’ve just had our first ever podium at our first round, so we’re happy with second place, a bit deflated at the same time, to lose by two-tenths!

“I gave it everything, gave my hardest. We made a good account of ourselves for the rest of the season.”

The former Porsche Carrera Cup GB driver Charlie Eastwood concluded, “We got a lot more than we bargained for coming into this weekend with the second place.

“We were only two-tenths behind, so it was a massive battle in the last stint with Euan on Pedro Lamy so, in the end, a one-two for Aston Martin with TF on the podium in its first WEC race.”

The squad will now begin their preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans where they hope to put in another excellent performance and stand on the podium at La Sarthe.

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